How To Homeschool On A Sailboat

Deciding to homeschool on a sailboat (aka boatschooling) is a massive decision that could have many unintended consequences. You’re not just trying to educate a student, you’re taking on the responsibility of your child when homeschooling!

(Coming from former educators, it can be easier to teach someone else’s child!)

But like most things on a sailboat, and in life, homeschooling doesn’t have to be hard.

Nancy and I are certified teachers and certified principals with a combined 25 years in education grades prek-12. Yet with all that experience, we had no idea how to homeschool on a sailboat! When we first got the idea to sell everything we own and sail away with our daughter…

…we completely second guessed everything we knew about education.

We really didn’t think it was possible.

We were afraid we would damage our child. That she’d lose interest. Or worse, we’d totally screw up as parents.

We were afraid we would damage our child. That she’d lose interest. Or worse, we’d totally screw up as parents.

Whether you’re contemplating taking a year to cruise with your family, live aboard and homeschool full-time, or simply just like following stories like ours, learning how to homeschool on a sailboat doesn’t have to be hard.

As a matter of fact, we’re going to share the exact system we use, so you can see:

  • How To Align With College Preparation
  • How To Avoid the Rigidness of Traditional Academics
  • How To Avoid the Pitfalls of Less Rigorous Homeschooling
  • How To Enjoy The Process of Homeschooling on a Sailboat


A Day In The Life of Homeschooling
Homeschool Schedule
A Kid’s Perspective of Boatschooling
What’s Programs or Curriculum Do You Use?
What To Do When You Have No Internet
Prepare For But Not Require College
10 Tips To Make Homeschooling Easier
Leave Us A Comment

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First, A Day in the Life of Homeschooling

Homeschooling on a Sailboat Part 1 (Kemah, TX)

There are so many ways to plan the daily homeschooling routine. Just like in a classroom, there really is not single right way. Here’s another video (part 3) of our boatschooling videos, and it shows a day of schooling about a year after part 1 (the video just above).

Homeschooling on a Sailboat Part 3 (Chesapeake, VA)

We choose to keep a loose schedule focused on core priorities with plenty of flex time for pleasure learning, projects, friend time, and free time.

Sometimes, we’ll go two weeks with a daily routine, but other times the routine is interrupted by travel. And it’s in those times, that we get flexible and focus on reading, conversations, exploring, and writing.

Homeschool Schedule Monday – Thursday

  • 9:00am Grammar/Spelling
  • 9:30am History
  • 10:30am Math
  • 12:00 Lunch and Break
  • 13:00 Science
  • 14:00 Spanish
  • 14:30 Reading (or in the evening if she’s ahead on reading, then she’s out of school early)

Grammar and spelling are the easiest of her coursework, so it’s a nice start for the day. We sometimes change it up with general word study or vocabulary development using resources such as Spiral WarmUps.

There are so many ways to plan the daily homeschooling routine. Just like in a classroom, there really is not single right way.

Also Reading is flexible because she’ll often read when she wakes up around 7am. If she reads an hour a day, we’re happy. That also means she’s free on many days around 2:30pm or 3pm.

What About Fridays?

We use Friday as a flex day. She reads for an hour and completes math for an hour. Apart from that, she’s running errands, helping me with the business, video editing, or working on her own projects and hobbies.

Instead of doing electives, we simply incorporate real-life learning and passion projects.

Now, if she’s behind on her work, Friday is there to catch up.

A Kid’s Perspective of Boatschooling

Homeschooling on a Sailboat Part 2

In this video, we share a quick conversation with Olivia, where she talks about her likes and dislikes with homeschooling on a sailboat.

Hope you enjoy.

If you have any thoughts or questions, we welcome you to leave them in the comments at the bottom of this post.

What Programs or Curriculum Do You Use For Homeschool on a Sailboat?

We use a blend of online programs, projects, field trips, and textbooks.

  • Math: ALEKS – man, I wish they had an affiliate program. I’ve seen this online math program work wonders with hundreds of students below grade level and for accelerated learners. Currently, Olivia is at the 6th grade age, but she’s working on 8th grade Algebra in this program! It’s that good.
  • Reading: Textbooks, Online Resources, and Fiction (currently, The Divergent Series)
  • History: www.ail.school and Ancient Civilizations Textbook
  • Science: www.ail.school and Science Fusion Textbook
  • Grammar: We use this workbook that has three sections each for grade 6, grade 7, and grade 8. Olivia will use this for 3 years!
  • Spelling: This spelling workbook has been real easy, but it was a good break from the rest of her work and allowed her to do some spelling practice, which she never had in public school grades 3-5.
  • Spanish: babbel.com
  • Electives: masterclass.com and Udemy.

Sailing Totem also provided a good list of resources in their blog post here.

Eclectic Homeschooling

The term is new to us, and we don’t intentionally seek to use an eclectic approach to homeschooling on a sailboat, but sometimes we do. What is eclectic homeschooling?

“Eclectic Homeschooling” is an approach to homeschooling (boatschooling) in which parents pick and choose the best parts of several different homeschooling resources. It allows flexibility in curriculum and can allow the learner to focus on interests and pathways that fit their strengths. Eclectic homeschooling gives you the flexibility to focus on topics for different lengths of time using resources that fir your needs.

That’s definitely not something allowed in most standardized testing environments.

What Do You Do When You Sail and Have No Internet?

We can’t speak directly to this, because we’ve only lived aboard 5 months now, and have only recently made our first offshore passage (video coming soon, around episode 46 or 47).

That said, we have a plan.

There will always be a constant useful tension between academics and experiences.

We understand there will always be a constant useful tension between academics and experiences. And we hope time away from internet will provide the balance of experience.

Some weeks, we expect three or four hours of school every day. When we have internet, we’ll catch up on the internet-based programs with six months of eight hours of school a day.

Other weeks, we’ll simply have cultural and nature-based experienced with silent reading time, and maybe writing a few essays or review some math work.

After all, it’s our experiences that grant wisdom and perspective. Without which, academic learning kind of falls flat and inert.

Prepare For But Not Require College

We’re into alternative living, so clearly, we’re not pushing the normal suburban dream of go to college, get a good job, buy a house, put down roots.

We’re not going to let homeschooling on a sailboat be a limiting factor. It’s going to be an advantage.

However, that doesn’t mean homeschooling on a sailboat has to lack the academic rigor, work ethic, and thinking prowess associated with solid college preparation.

Our mantra is prepare but not require.

So we’re preparing for the best college, and allowing Olivia to decide what she wants – whether it’s an Ivy League experience, culinary school, start her own lawn business, or travel the world.

However, we’re not going to let homeschooling on a sailboat be a limiting factor for her. It’s going to be an advantage for her.

A Few Tips to Make Homeschooling Easier

*Disclaimer: We create resources for teachers and parents to use. Some of the links below lead to our free and paid resources.

Tips on How To Homeschool on a Sailboat

  1. Try Unschooling

    Take periods of time – Fridays like we do, a solid week, or two afternoons a week – and unschool. Let your child play, explore, and lead their own learning. Let questions be plentiful. And simply require a journal to record learning and thoughts.

  2. Keep It Challenging

    The benefit of homeschooling is you don’t have to slow down with classroom misbehaviors. Instead, keep it focused and challenging. Accelerate the learning and seek tutorial help when needed. Difficult doesn’t mean frustrating to the point of giving up. College may not be your child’s future, but being prepared for that kind of work ethic and thinking is always beneficial.

  3. Reading Doesn’t Have To Be Structured

    That’s right, you don’t need daily comprehension worksheets. The best gift we can give is a love of reading – whether it’s comics, fiction, or purely informational reading. Enjoy lots of silent, free reading. If you’re with a child age 2-9, incorporate shared reading and reading aloud. Give simple reading comprehension tests or quizzes weekly to check for growth.

  4. Don’t Be Afraid of Textbooks

    Schools are leaving textbooks behind. And yes, reading a chapter and answering questions is bad learning – if that’s all you do. Instead write 3-5 of your own questions for a chapter, and have your chapter think 3-5 questions too. Then use the questions as the guide for the reading. If you use an app like Google docs or OneNote to take notes, your child can talk the answers instead of typing them!

  5. Language Study is Different Than Writing

    Back in the 80s, English Language Arts was all about grammar and spelling. While those skills are important, they’re not the same as teaching writing. Writing is more about organizing your thinking. Approach it like a sport or an art. Plenty of practice, with a comment for coaching here or there. It takes time to grow into a good writer.

  6. Writing is a Tool for Thinking

    You really don’t need a lot of workbooks or programs. Just reading, talking, experiences, and videos. The key though, is using writing as a tool for thinking. Summarize what was learned. Compare and contrast. Describe and explain. And do it in writing. Give feedback, and ask your child to write some more. Just like a sport, it can be tiring at first, but over time, the thinking skills will grow!

  7. Limit the Lectures

    The great think about teaching is your don’t have to be a lecturer or know everything. Leave that to the experts who get paid to lecture. Instead think of yourself as the guide by the side. Learning with your child and modeling learning strategies such as how to get reliable information, asking the right questions, how to take notes, and how to find answers to your questions.

  8. Outsource Your Curriculum

    You don’t have to think of the math problems. You don’t have to create the tests. There are plenty of teachers who do this on TeachersPayTeachers (like us, here’s our store) and in resources like these from Teacher Created Resources (Amazon Affiliate Link) and these from Scholastic.

  9. When You Have Internet Jump Ahead

    When you have internet, double-down on progress by jumping ahead on programs like Spiral WarmUps, Accelerated Institute of Learning, Khan Academy, and PBS Learning Media. These all are free and can’t speed up learning, so you can have plenty of unschool time and field trips when there’s no internet.

  10. Model Curiosity and Lifelong Learning

    Everything on a sailboat is about learning and exploring. Model this growth mindset by celebrating mistakes, asking tons of questions, and exploring new ideas.

Let’s Talk About It

Thanks for reading this far! We’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m sure we left something out of in this blog post, so if you have any questions, please ask them in the comments below.





8 responses to “How To Homeschool On A Sailboat”

  1. Sarah Knuepper

    We just discovered you from a Facebook group. Thanks for sharing these homeschooling tips! We’re looking forward to following you on YouTube.

    1. Sorry I missed your comment a while back! Great to hear from you.

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